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Adjusting to financial dependence as SAHM

  1. #1
    purple1 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    HK Island

    Adjusting to financial dependence as SAHM

    before kids and moving to hk, I used to work and have good salary. I paid for my credit card, shopping, etc. After 3 yrs as stay at home mom, I am still having a hard time adjusting to spending husbands money. I'm ok with him paying rent, bills, school etc. But when it come to my shopping, or personal stuff like massages, my restaurant bills, etc, having husband paid for them make me feel bad about spending(though I don't really shop that much!) and sometimes he would comment on the high credit card bill, which include groceries, doctor and my personal spending. And this really upset me as I feel I'm not spending that much on myself and I wish I have more financial freedom.
    Anyone want to share how you handle finances between spouses? Men's perspective welcome too.
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  2. #2
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Sai Kung
    once we got married, we no longer had "my" money and "his" money. for us, it is one and the same.

    while i'm not a SAHM, i've, for various reasons not had income (although i'm working what feels like 4 different jobs at once) for almost 2 years. i'm working because of the potential of what i'm doing, not for the current income ($0). so, i DO know what you mean about spending on yourself.

    for us, we have a couple of set goals, and luckily, both hubby and i are VERY focused on those goals. when i feel like i NEED a massage, then i have one (but not at a fancy-shmancy place in central). hubby doesn't begrudge me it. we are VERY careful with how we are spending, so, in all honesty, there is almost no personal shopping for either of us.

    what you and hubby need to do is sit down together and make a budget and include $ for both you and hubby's personal spending. that way, neither of you have any surprises at the end of the month. you won't feel guilty and he won't feel like you are taking advantage of the situation.

    good luck!

  3. #3
    lesliefu is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    South District
    Can understand where you are coming from...about 1 1/2 hrs ago I became a we were both working, we had two separate accounts, after we got married we got a third one...a joint account. As a SAHM hubby gives me some pocket money for my own stuff. (nominal amount) and all big expenses e,g. Tuition, doctors fees etc, come from the joint account, honestly don't buy much for myself as I have three kids and no time, so most of my pocket money foes to grocery shopping and buying whatever it is I would like to pamper myself with...that is food wise. Ifi buy more extravagant things I always use my own savings as I had been working for a long time and have moey saved up as, like you say, I feel guilty splurging when I know he won't do the same on himself. Last time I did that, he did say he would pay for the it was a pleasant surprise l!

    Think it's not hard tonwork something out as ling as you guys talk through farthings gave worked out well for us. Good luck.!

  4. #4
    genkimom is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Hong Kong
    We have the same situation, but the roles are reversed. I work and my husband is a SAHD. I personally don't care at all what he spends money on because i trust he won't go wild and crazy with it. AS soon as we got married, there was no his money and my money. Everything is ours. He gets massages, and does all the shopping, and we discuss together anything that costs above a hundred dollars or so. When he does spend a ton on money, its always on something the family needed, and its always the best deal he could find. I know he thinks long and hard about every purchase he makes.

    We don't like high credit card bills because you have to pay interest if you don't pay all at once; plus our CCs are from the US so we have to pay international transfer fees to get money into our US bank to pay the CC bills. One way to avoid this is to only use cash or ATM card (EPS) to buy stuff.

    Does your husband trust you? Are you financially responsible? If the roles were reversed, would you be comfortable with the way he spent your money? If yes, try to relax.

    My advice: sit down with your husband and the bills and expenses for the month and make sure he is clear how much money your family needs to spend on groceries, rent, kids clothes, activities, and utilities (and anything else that is a regular expense). men like numbers and statistics. Show him how and why the money gets spent in a certain way. He may be surprised if he isn't the one paying himself how much everything costs. ( You only need to do this once really, so he knows what the baseline of family expenses are; but we do this once a year or so just to see if there are ways we can trim the spending and be more efficient with our utilities; but this is because we are both very conservative with how we spend money)

    Then when there is a big special purchase coming up (you need a new cocktail dress and matching accessories, you decided to buy an air purifier, whatever), mention it to him in advance and the various pros and cons of the different choices you have checked out. (I could buy a cheap one but it will break in a year and we'll have to buy another one, or go with the expensive high quality one that will last longer, etc).

    You don't need his permission. But it is helpful to know in advance there is going to be a big purchase and you have carefully thought out why this needs to be made and have good reasons for it. If he trusts you, he probably won't say another word about it.
    Last edited by genkimom; 01-16-2012 at 12:18 AM.

  5. #5
    2010-NewDad is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Hong Kong
    We have a very similar system to the one genkimom mentions - a single shared account, and trust between spouses on what we spend. My wife is a SAHM and gave up her career to move to Hong Kong with me. We discussed having a helper which would let her work but both of us prefer one of us to do the majority of our parenting rather than delegating to a helper in the daytime.

    My salary is split into two accounts automatically each month - one is for savings/investments and one is a current account that all our joint spending comes from. We can each withdraw money freely and use credit cards for purchases as needed. If there is a discretionary purchases >$1000 coming up we'll discuss it together and decide what/if we need to buy.

    I do the investments and once a year we go through our financial position so we both know where we stand and how we are stacked up for the future. I think the most important aspect of this is trust - we both trust each other and the system wouldn't work without that. We both had similar backgrounds and spending habits before we married and that undoubtedly helped too as neither of us had to change our behavior.

    I have discussed this with some of my close friends, and one guy changed from this model above into one of giving his wife an allowance for household & her spending every month. This change was actually instigated by the SAHM and now she is much happier now as she doesn't have to worry about spending too much or worrying what he thinks when she buys clothes or whatever as it all comes from her "allowance"/portion of the salary.

    I don't think there is a single model to fit everyone... as long as you both communicate and both fully agree to whatever model you implement there are a lot of ways to skin the cat.

  6. #6
    Liquorice is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Hong Kong
    Hi purple1, I had the same concerns when I stopped working. What we did was first of all sit down and work out all likely expenditure on a spreadsheet. So everything that we could foresee - e.g. water rates, electricity bills, phone bills, expense for dogs (food, vet, incidentals), food (supermarket), eating out, lunches, holidays, car insurance/tax, petrol, gifts, hairdresser, pedicures, clothes, savings target...absolutely everything we could foresee spending money on, plus an amount for unforeseen things that may come up. We estimated monthly costs and then divided annual, quarterly or bi-monthly costs appropriately to give us a total monthly budget for the year.

    We then decided who would pay for (or rather is responsible for) what. My husband has most of the big items (mortgage, income tax, savings etc.) I am responsible for the majority of day to day things. Anyway, he transfers the budgeted amount into my account every month and I manage it. He then asks no questions about anything and leaves it entirely up to me how I manage the money. E.g. if I want to buy an expensive item then I manage the budget so that I can buy it. If I think we should buy something very expensive, that is out of my budget, then of course we discuss it and he will need to contribute.

    My husband doesn't see my credit card bills or account balances. I would find it difficult, I think, if he were scrutinising everything I bought as we have very different ideas about what we need to buy!

    Good luck finding a solution. I hope it gets easier for you.

  7. #7
    howardcoombs is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Happy Valley
    Quote Originally Posted by 2010-NewDad View Post
    My salary is split into two accounts automatically each month - one is for savings/investments and one is a current account that all our joint spending comes from. We can each withdraw money freely and use credit cards for purchases as needed. If there is a discretionary purchases >$1000 coming up we'll discuss it together and decide what/if we need to buy.
    We have almost exactly the same set of practices in our household. Single set of accounts, free spending for anything up to $1000. We have 2 incomes and I handle all the investments and school fees (big stuff) while my wife handles all household and day to day stuff (smaller things).

    I'm sure someone, somewhere must have done studies on this but in my limited experience with people around me (friends and family), I have found that :
    vast majority of relationships that break down practice separate bank accounts and rarely pool funds together;
    vast majority of successful/happy relationships have combined finances.

    Having said that, we do know a couple who are very happily married and they take turns taking each other out and paying from their own accounts for everything. Sometimes they split bills. This really baffles me but they have made it work for themselves.

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